Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."
Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.
- Taiwanese officials raised concerns this month after China's crackdown on Hong Kong that the Chinese government may move to aggressively try and bring Taiwan under its control, per the New York Times, which notes there's been an uptick in Chinese activity in Taiwan's airspace this summer.
- There have been several other flash-points between the U.S. and China this year — including the tit-for-tat closures of consulates, U.S. sanctions over the Hong Kong security law and also China's human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims, and stalled trade negotiations.
Details: Azar said in a statement, "Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the COVID-19 pandemic and long before it.
- "I look forward to conveying President Trump's support for Taiwan's global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.
"This trip represents an opportunity to strengthen our economic and public health cooperation with Taiwan, especially as the United States and other countries work to strengthen and diversify our sources for crucial medical products."
What they're saying: Per AFP, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a briefing, "China firmly opposes official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan."
Go deeper: U.S.-China diplomacy is crumbling
Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.